Collapse of Northern Ireland Executive impacts apology to victims of historical institutional abuse in Northern Ireland

Readers of this blog will be aware that last month we commented on Northern Ireland announcing its intention to make a public apology over historical institutional abuse on 11 March, 2022.

On 3 February the Northern Ireland First Minister Paul Givan of the DUP announced his resignation and this meant that the deputy first minister, Michelle O’Neill of Sinn Féin, lost her post too.

Ordinarily this would activate a seven day period to renominate the roles or failing that, the Northern Ireland Secretary would be called upon to set a date for assembly elections and the institutions would immediately collapse.

However, legislation passed in Westminster last week provided that the Northern Ireland Assembly will continue for an initial six-week period, with the option that this could be extended to twenty four or forty eight weeks.

While this new legislation prevents a complete collapse of Government in Northern Ireland, the other Ministers in the Stormont Executive cannot meet without a First and Deputy First Minister.

In these circumstances there was an issue as to who would deliver the long awaited apology.

While the political parties at Stormont have now agreed a format for the apology, some victims groups and those who campaign on their behalf are not willing to attend at Stormont for the apology.

Survivors Together group, which represents significant numbers of victims and survivors of abuse in state-run institutions, said that the plan was not good enough.

The group has stated publicly that “Having spoken with our members, the overwhelming response is that it is viewed as a downgraded apology and not what they had anticipated or had been promised, therefore they rejected it as insincere and futile.”

The group says that it is also awaiting the outcome of the review of the HIA Redress Board which was announced in December 2021, which we will be dealing with in another blog later this week.


Written by Caroline Farrell at BLM
caroline.farrell@blmlaw.com

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